Jersey First
By: Joan Mach

“Is your name really Alfred E. Newman?”, the reporter stuck her mike into my face. “Would I call myself anything else if I could?”, I replied. “What does the E stand for?”, she persisted. “Ewing”, I replied. “I got my start there”. “What?” the dummy went on. “My parents met when they both wanted the last issue of MAD in the bookstore at the College of New Jersey”. “You have a College devoted to the study of New Jersey in this state?” “No, it’s a liberal arts college with a broad range of majors”, I replied.

I stepped up to the podium. “Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, thank you for coming to this press conference. I hope all of you enjoyed the premium liquors and buffet. Yes, you may use the plastic bags at the end of the table to take home a doggie bag. Let me explain the logic behind my new movement “Jersey First”. We seek to move the New Jersey Presidential Primary from June 2, 2020 to February 2, 2020. There are abundant good reasons for this. New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country. Yet, by the time we hold our primary the candidates have been narrowed down to one or at most two choices. We literally have no say in who we can vote for.

The people of New Hampshire have an early primary. With an early primary, their 1.5 million people are literally wined and dined by every presidential hopeful. Politicians couirt them. They are bombarded with speeches from candidates of every stripe. Their homogenous population decides who goes on, who gets funding and who goes home. We’re grateful to them for keeping Chris Christie out of New Jersey in 2016. It was worth any sum to have him as far away as possible. Still, we would like some of that attention.

Let me tell you a bit about New Jersey. We are the most densely populated state in the union, a diverse population comprising many ethnic groups and shades of opinion. If you extended the Mason Dixon line, a third of New Jersey would be south of that line. Bergen County is close to NYC, in distance and politics. South Jersey is more rural and conservative. We represent the country as a whole better than New Hampshire, reflecting a broader spectrum of opinion. Parts of New Jersey are almost unpopulated, the Pine Barrens wilderness areas seem empty. Yet, every year we are the most densely populated state in the country.

You see politicians jamming the booths of New Hampshire’s few diners, buying coffee for those lucky Yankees. The poor voters are so stuffed with free food and coffee, they can’t move out of their seats. No sooner does one hopeful tell them their name, than another candidate pushes the first one aside, buys more coffee and food, and starts to tell the voters THEIR first and last name. On and on it goes, until the diners of New Hampshire run out of coffee and food. We have hundreds of diners in New Jersey, all of them with clean men’s rooms. Many thirsty, poor New Jersey voters would cheerfully listen to all three of a candidate’s names and even try to figure out which party he belongs to. Our diners have NEVER run out of coffee. Candidates can try to figure out which part of a pig gave us Taylor Roll, why the Greek diners serve the best Italian food.

New Hampshire gives us “heartwarming” stories about their locals. One local ties his own fishing lures, big whoop. We got locals in a Utopia in Berkley heights who walk around naked in winter. The Jersey Devil lurks in the bushes. New Jersey mosquitoes want to give our politicians a warm, personal welcome. We have a history of eccentrics going back centuries. Peter Sammartino founded FDU because he thought a college would look good in front of his mansion.

Ok, our state bird is a commuter, and the refineries end their pipeline in Elizabeth, hence the smell. We have a lot more to offer than tiny little New Hampshire, as our larger population attests Our world-class museums in Newark, Montclair and Hamilton just touch the tip of our cultural offerings. We can out=New Hampshire New Hampshire n any level. We even have a state song, now.

I paused for breath and a drink of water. The bottles were empty, and the reporters were packing up the last of the buffet into doggie bags. “How do you intend to get this legislature to ratify the change you want? “ the girl was on her feet again. “I intend to use my lottery winnings to bribe them.” I replied: “This is New Jersey”.

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